Blended Leg

Just a general needlework and cross stitch blog

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Stitch N Pitch 2008

After changing into my Scarlet Thread t-shirt and my Nationals W cap, I went straight over to Nationals Park after work. The Metro ride to the game was pain-free. I was going against the usual commuter traffic back into DC, changing at L'Enfant Plaza and two stops to Navy Yard. And then what has become a tradition -- walking down Half Street towards the stadium. And yes, don't let them fool you. While there construction going up around the stadium, it is in a rather miserable neighborhood. But there's plenty of security types around. Even after the game after midnight, I felt perfectly safe.

The new Nationals Park is gorgeous! They really outdid themselves on that front. I wandered through the team store, but I already had my prized curly W hat. I did buy a program. Ironically the freebie program had Elijah Dukes on the cover.

The one flaw in the Stitch N Pitch organization was I didn't know where they were meeting. They'd included little notices at the seats, but I hadn't found my section yet! I'd watched a video from last year's event where they met on one of the concourses. That was last year, when the Nats still lived at RFK. In trying to find the ramp to up to my level, I found the conference rooms and our location!

There were representatives from most of the local shops, including a couple of familiar faces from both Scarlet Thread and Needlewoman East. The first 400 people received a red curly W goodie bag with patterns, fiber, even a pair of Bates number 8 knitting needles. Tables were demonstrating or teaching the different arts. The knitting table was particularly popular, especially with the younger crowd. The lady from Needlewoman East showed off needlepoint and the owner of Scarlet Thread worked on her cross stitch on a table stand. The MASN tv camera popped in for a short time to allow their sideline reporter Debbie Taylor to interview someone about the event. I'll have to check the DVR to see if we made it to the pregame show. I taped the game, but I was assuming it was a normal nine inning game too. Oops.

I showed off the Book of Ink Circles. We were still in last batch of sunlight and the sun caught it directly and all the colors gleamed. I was momentarily surprised. My home lighting really doesn't do it justice.

Then I wandered up stairs to find food and drink and my seat. I did not find a Curly W Pretzel. They were all the way back downstairs and I wasn't in the mood for a hike, so I went with the local little stand. I made do with a boring pretzel, hot dog and drink. In retrospect, I should have gone with water. The one annoying thing: no lids. I know they don't want people throwing things onto the field, but really, I wish there was a practical way to allow them. Do you know how hard it is to carry all this stuff and not spill something? Especially with all the stairs you have to navigate, it's like they're asking for trouble!

I was seated in section 303, which is one of the upper levels opposite left field. I had a perfect view of the massive scoreboard, which came in handy for keeping up with the balls and strikes. It really did look like it was hard to find a bad seat in the house. You could see the entire field. If you want the view of the Capitol dome, though, I think you want right field side. The MASN booth is way way up there behind home plate. Someone would really have to be trying to hit a foul ball up there.

I was seated between a knitter on one side and a set of quilters on the other. They all worked in a quilting shop in Great Falls, Virginia and apparently there's a Veterans Day swap/event among the local stores so they were sewing squares. They needed to do eleven and I think they'd nearly finished four by the time they'd left. Some people were bigger baseball fans than others.

I do wish the regular attendance was better. For all the hype of a new stadium, there were still a lot of empty seats and even more as the long night wore on. There were going to be some disappointed fans, too. They were promised Friday night fireworks, but the game ended so late, they had to cancel them, out of respect for their neighbors. They had to do that once before with the Cubs game that Nieves hit a walk-off home run to end.

Oh, yes, there was a game! The first Stitch N Pitch had a near no-hitter, so this one more lived up to its former hype. It was a little disconcerting not to have the replays and Sutton/Carpenter commentary. For stitching purposes, it usually means I don't miss things, but last night I missed a few key plays, including Rangers catcher Gerard Laird injuring his hamstring running out a single. Tim Redding had one bad inning that scored three Rangers. The Nationals kept chipping away at that lead with base runners here and there. With eleven hits, they had no trouble getting people on base, it was converting those opportunities! Elijah Dukes was a one man wrecking crew. He was on base almost every time he went up. He hit both the home run that tied the game and the go-ahead winning single in the 14th. Not a bad way to earn your game check.

The night was a long one. And lord knows they tried to keep things interesting. They wound up running two President's Race. Teddy didn't do very well in either. Poor Teddy. We had both a 7th inning and a 14th inning stretch. I joked that it had been another 7 innings, after all, much to the amusement of the man behind me. We both quoted "Bull Durham" when the Rangers had a meeting at the mound ("Candlesticks always make a nice gift. And, maybe you can find out where she's registered...") You make your own fun by the 14th inning, okay?

There was also a lovely moment of tribute on the the big scoreboard to Tim Russert in between innings. They showed a video backed to Bruce Springsteen song with clips of Russert talking about baseball being back in Washington. It ended with "You'll always be our 10th man".

The quilters and I had a good time with the theme songs. Apparently every Nationals player has an at-bat theme song clips, featuring a lot of hard rock/rap/Latin music from what I could determine. We were trying to figure out what our themes would be, prompting some silly responses. One lady was a big country fan so somehow we went from "Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off" to "Beer for my Horses". I wasn't snappy enough to come up with "Margaritaville". Sadly I would have gone with some classic hard rock -- "Back in Black" or "Walk this Way" or even "Enter the Sandman". (I know they've got a list of the songs on the MLB site. I stumbled onto it by accident once.)

When the game was finally over and the Nationals won, leaving most fans happy (not all -- they were quite a few Rangers fans at the game), a large number of us trudged down Half Street to Navy Yard. Say what I will about WMATA and I can say plenty, they managed the crush very well. They held one train to allow people to get downstairs and then brought in a completely empty train to cover nearly everyone else. Two stops and then go downstairs at L'Enfant to head for home.

It was quite an experience for only my second MLB game. I had great fun going to the game and meeting all the stitchers, but I would not want to do that on a regular basis. Certainly not 14 innnings worth!

I did manage to take a few photos which are on my Flickr account. They include pictures of the goodie bag and the stadium and neighborhood.

Articles on the Game
Washington Post article
Washington Times

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Flashback: How I spent my Sunday afternoon

So Sunday, June 8, 2007, I went to my first needlework class at the Scarlet Thread. I'd wanted to take one, but could never find one in my skill bracket. Then I saw the newsletter about the upcoming biscornu class featuring a pattern inspired by "Take me Out to the Ballgame." What could be better? Combining my love of baseball and a curiosity about putting together biscornu.

What are biscornu? Near as I can figure, the term comes from the French and has various meanings. It's an oddly shaped pin cushion/ornament/fob/doo-dad created by stitching two pieces of fabric together. Instead of getting a square, you get biscornu. There's a great online tutorial translated by [info]own_two_hands showing all the steps. Being one of those visual types who needs someone to show me how things work (and generally terrified by finishing/sewing techniques), this seemed like an ideal course.

The full piece is shown on My Ordinary Needle's blog. The instructor was Donna LeBranche. The kit came with the class and I intended to start tackling that before I went to the Stitch N Pitch, if only because the teacher was going, so I could ask tech support questions. She's a big baseball fan of the Red Sox persuasion. She was even interviewed by the Washington Post's Dan Steinberg at the 2006 Stitch N Pitch event.

Since we wouldn't have time to finish the full biscornu, the teacher created a mini version with "I Heart Baseball" on the top and a diamond eyelet on the bottom. The heart was done in a Rhodes Heart stitch. I'd never done either of the two specialty stitches. I ironically had an easier time with those than the back-stitching. Except for the part where I was stitching on the back of my fabric... oops. At least I hadn't done much yet.

Then came the fun of attaching the two pieces of fabric together with a whip stitch. Once you get the hang of it, it's really easy. I can definitely see why you need the squares to be exactly the same. Otherwise, it'll never work out right.

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